Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reverse bigotry, or why I'm really just a patriarchal pig

Reeling from a recent bollocking I received on a site I no longer frequent, I'm here to write about my feelings. Any comment that doesn't respect those feelings, which I am entitled to even though I'm merely a lock-step member of the patriarchy who can't escape that all-encompassing construct, will be deleted. But please put it there anyway, because having spent years being, if a bit contrarian, I would have thought at least 2/3 of the time a defender and advocate of most reasonable levels of feminist argument, I feel utterly let down and am completely in the mood to clean house and rethink friendships.

If that sounds grumpy, or over-the-top, so be it. I try to express emotions honestly on this site, which is a much a personal as a political space, and this is how I feel.

I react badly to attacks from my own, speaking in a broad political sense. I admit this isn't rational and may draw on emotions sourced in notions like mateship, team loyalty or group identity that most of the left, including myself, are adept at picking apart. But it is still there; the sense that being aimed in generally the same direction on a broad swathe of issues might build the social capital that allows for differences of opinion to be understood and respected.

The notion also has a downside in that significant disappointments in this regard leave me questioning everything. Isn't this small-mindedness, marginalisation, or bigotry, what I am devoting energy to ending? If it's equally prevalent on my 'side' am I just under a delusion?

It's a stupid, naive notion and this final straw will hopefully ensure I don't raise an eyebrow in future when someone ignores my subjective experience as an individual and casts me, because of my gender, race, sexuality, or any other reference point for bigotry, as the generic 'other' against which their own fiercely polemic narrative must assert itself.

The left has always found its fiercest antagonisms to be internal. It is the political manifestation of the narcissism of minor differences, the peculiar contempt we feel for those who want to do things similarly, but not the same, as us. So the Greens hate Labor Left, and vice versa, and Socialists can turn on each other with spiteful rage. And yet I don't know if I should even think of myself as close to some of the extremes of what is ostensibly my 'side' of politics.

To be fair, in return, I am more of a centrist with a leftward leaning- it isn't my place, per se, to centre my own views as the middle of the left, some sort of objective reference point. I quite like Petro Georgiou and Malcolm Fraser, finding my political locus is not straightforward. But that doesn't mean I have to eagery lap up the kind of 'reverse' bigotry that allows people to make assumptions about me merely because of the role biology handed me in the breeding process.

Offensive is implying someone must be selfish in "male" ways, such as taking up too much room on crowded trains, when all you know about them is what's between their legs.

Offensive is suggesting some marginal space like the games room is the automatic repository for any males who don't want to talk footy and watch strippers, implying your interlocutor must either suit one or the other. That's like saying "oh there's a women's space already, look, the sewing room!"

Offensive is allowing vastly different standards in respect of the type of behaviours- for example sitting with legs wide apart, having an aggressive presentation, or even reading porn, depending, again, on what's between the person's legs.

I've known so many women who have experienced some tangible, sometimes shocking, misery at the hands of my own gender. I can see the large proportion of males who wander around waving their metaphorical (or literal) crotches and no doubt confirming the perceptions of both patriarchy and ongoing violent threat that so many women identify. There IS a long way to go. So there is a fair amount I will suck up out of respect for that ongoing problematic, from taking steps not to walk behind women on dark roads at night, to tempering my language, volume, or physical bearing out of sensitivity for the numerous experiences and unpleasant potentials those things have the capacity to trigger in others' perceptions, however benign my own intent.

I'm not angry, sorry if the strong expression of feelings above suggests otherwise. I am offended though, and a bit sad, and I would simply like to ask that if you disagree with any of the things I listed as finding offensive above, you do not comment, and leave me alone from now on, because I can't face the disappointment I will feel when I realise where I stand in your judgement. I have desisted from ad hominem attack and avoided naming or linking in respect of the thread in question, populated as it is by people I still hold some affection and respect for. We simply have what might be called an irreconcilable difference.

I would be grateful for the same courtesy- I've HAD ENOUGH for this month, thanks.


Tim said...

Now I'm curious - what site are you referring to?

lucy tartan said...

I can guess.

Legal Eagle said...

I respect your point of view and your comments, which are always expressed constructively.

I also get more disappointed about bigotry and narrow mindedness from the left. Isn't that what the left is supposed to be against?

Sometimes there's a sense that you have to follow a particular creed to the letter, and if you question it, you are Not Left Wing. I really dislike that.

I also don't like the kind of tribalism which inflicts the Left/Right divide. I blog with SL who is more "Right wing" than I (although query how applicable these labels are to libertarians anyway), and I find her opinions are invariably interesting and thought-provoking. I hate this idea that we can't engage in dialogue, and can't talk with each other constructively without descending to personal abuse, and if you even so much as link to someone whose opinion is different to your own, somehow you've become a member of "Teh Right".

But hey, I'm a contrarian of long standing too... :) Just ornery, I guess.

Armagny said...

Sorry for 1st comment deletion- that was about naming conventions only Mr Sterne =)

cristy said...

Oh dear. I have no idea what happened, but I know something of what you mean. Ages ago I posted on LP about a Carnival that I was hosting at no pod - one about vegetarianism, animal rights etc...

Someone (another member of LP that I had previous met, etc) took offence to the fact that I was promoting animal rights and was, therefore, misrepresenting "Teh Left" (as he defined it), because 'everyone' knows that animals rights are irrelevant and only supported by loopy fools, etc...

He stooped to personal attacks for no real reason and I felt offended at first - especially when others joined in. However, several other LPers jumped up to defend me and by the time some time had passed I realised that I really didn't care what he thought.

I won't let people like that define what "Teh Left" is anymore than I will let "Teh Right" define what feminism means.

Still, it was upsetting at the time and is one of the reasons that I stopped posting and now don't frequent LP anymore. I don't need that kind of negative energy in my life.

Ann ODyne said...

I don't visit blogs where nasty people hang.
Very very frequently, nasty remarks come from commentors with no blog of their own.
This week, I have been flamed by humourless young-fogey commentors, at 2 blogs where I had thought I was among friends.
Blogs really are the one place where, if you can't say anything nice, just rackoff.
On your team Armagnac.

Anonymous said...

Don't sweat it Armagnac, just take it as a clear sign that when the revolution comes you will be third up against the wall ;)

i popped by, sorry if this is too ot, 'cause a while back you posted about night terrors, i read it in passing and went 'Hmmm, i wonder if we will get some of those.' sure enough, about two weeks ago the house was woken by screaming, so i wanted to thank you for the heads up and wish you well.


TimT said...

Yep - I know the post you're referring to. Good on you for making a principled argument in difficult circumstances. I agreed with a good deal of what you were saying.

I really dislike having all my opinions decided for me before I even enter into a discussion or a group, which is one reason why I find never describe myself as any kind of a feminist, or anything like that, even though I agree with (I think) most (though probably not all) of the general aims of feminism.* Same goes for other political/ideological groupings.

The dynamics of these groups are usually such that they place a great deal of importance upon certain arguments, and 'true' and 'false' identities, and so they can be quite tough on people they perceive as being not really in the group, or not making a 'correct' argument. It's a modern form of social exclusion.

It can be quite tough making principled arguments in these circumstances if you still identify with a group, and with their aims, but find yourself at the end of one of these forms of social-exclusion. I respect you much more for sticking to your guns. Good on you, 'gnac.

*Important disclaimer: obviously there are different types of feminism. I hope it doesn't totally invalidate my claim.